From New Jersey to Singapore: For public relations writing, campaigns, durians and camaraderie

By Mariko Curran

I am an “exchange student”, but I am not an exchange student.  This is effectively the truth. As part of the small breed of international non-graduating students whose home universities are not exchange partners with NUS — the rather ambiguously named “non-exchange students” — I am an English major graduating this year from The College of New Jersey, a small public liberal arts college in the United States.  My experience here over the past four months has affirmed that I made the right choice in stepping outside the box to apply to NUS instead of pursuing an existing programme.

One of the reasons I wanted to study in Singapore was its growing influence in global business.  As a Professional Writing minor at my home university, I have taken modules in journalism and writing for interactive and social media, among other things, and I was interested in taking a highly practical module at NUS in writing for business.  NM3219 Writing for Communication Management caught my attention as a module that I wouldn’t want to miss, and fortunately, I was approved to read it.

As my first real exposure to public relations, NM3219 and its highly realistic assignments have piqued my interest in the field as a career option.  While the research involved is rigorous, I found that I enjoyed building expertise on a particular company, industry, or issue and crafting strategic writing based on that – as my group and I did for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for our term project.

I also experienced firsthand the privileges and opportunities available to me as a student at NUS and in the CNM department in particular. During recess week, I participated in a Campus Programme session held by U.S.-based PR firm Waggener Edstrom especially for NM3219 students. At the session, I was able to learn how the course material took action in the real world and try my hand at the kind of brainstorming that drives PR campaigns. It was also interesting to see how a company based in my home country moulds itself in Singapore. (The employees there all said that the Singapore office was “the fun one”.)

Another indelible way CNM helped shape my Singapore experience: two of my 3219 group mates brought me out to Geylang to try the (in)famous durian, king of fruits.  My verdict on the taste?  As rich as my experience at NUS, or actually, maybe even a little richer – I could only eat two pieces.

My group mate works on opening up the next section of our 猫猫王 (māo māo wáng) durian as I pretend to help. (I am joking around in this photo, but I did actually help!)



Startup as a place to apply school at work

By Tran Nguyen Quynh Khanh

I intern at Collegify, a startup.  The company does not have a strong brand name that catches recruiters’ immediate attention yet.  However, what it has given me is more meaningful than a name: Collegify has given me, experience.

With all of 10 staff on board, my company is small.  However, that just means I have the opportunity of work directly with the co-founders of the company, and they are among the best bosses I have ever had.  Granted I have not been in the industry that much to know who is good and who is bad, but my bosses are definitely great people.  They are considerate that I am still a student overwhelmed with projects and assignments.  And always take into account my time constraints.

“We shall give you the minimum amount of work which we think you can complete. If you want to do more, you have to ask for more.  And there is always work to be done,” one of the co-founders said.  And when I ask, they really give me more exciting tasks.

At Collegify, I have to do many different things: advertising, marketing, research, etc., basically covering everything I learn in school.  Working for a startup, I have no protocol to follow.  I am free to think of as many ideas as possible. As long as an idea is feasible, it will be implemented.  I report for work every Saturday, and join in discussions with my bosses and colleagues.  During these brainstorming sessions, I am fortunate to be able to contribute to the company’s advertising and marketing strategies.  The theories I pick up at CNM come in handy when I develop my ideas. And I find myself jogging my memory of a certain concept or model at times.

Recently, Collegify introduced a new service, SAT preparation course – SITFOR.  I was entrusted with managing SITFOR’s online marketing campaign. I have to admit that it was not easy.  Keeping your audience informed is not enough, and engaging them is a big challenge.  Some people just refuse to get involved.  We have tried different methods, but have yet to produce our desired results.  It is hard, but what I have learnt in school comes in handy.

So, that’s why I disagree with people who tell me that the knowledge for working life and school life is different and that what is taught in school is not applicable in “real working life”.  Maybe I am not experienced enough to know how diverse working life is. But I find that what I picked up from CNM modules has been very relevant to my internship.  School and work meld at Collegify, and for that, I am grateful.

Pitch It! 2013

By Reynold Kwok


The champion of Pitch It! 2013, the annual case competition for communication and marketing majors in Singapore, is team Extranormal from NUS. The winning team won $2,000 and internship positions at Mindshare Singapore, one of the country’s biggest media agencies.


First and second runner-ups, team Bizinga from NTU and Flying Penguins from NUS, took back $1,500 and $750 respectively.  The two best speakers, Ng Lin Kai from NUS and Melvin Sim from NTU, also won themselves $150 each.


The winners were announced on 30 March 2013 following a two-month long competition in which 10 teams from various tertiary institutions in Singapore pitted themselves against one other, in a bid to bring glory to their polytechnic or university.


The winners emerged from a total of 35 teams, formed from students from four polytechnics and three universities.  Most of the participants belonged to communications or business programmes, and lent a fair and enriching opportunity for participants, judges and supporters to witness the different ways, students from the various academic institutions, thought and worked through a case.


On top of networking opportunities, participants also had a taste of working with industry professionals directly.  The Communications & New Media Society had organized the competition with the goal of bringing passionate students and industry professionals together and, in the process, bridge the gap between academia and industry.  As a student-run body, CNM Society wanted to give students a chance to sample the real world experience of pitching for business accounts; and sought the commitment of Mindshare Singapore to secure this opportunity.


To challenge participants further, CNM Society also collaborated with another Singapore brand, DeltaNano, an SME company specializing in off-the-shelve anti-bacterial solutions.


Said the Marketing Communications Director of the CNM Society, Reynold Kwok, “Giving students a local brand to work on, really expanded our perspectives.  Textbooks only use big-brand, million-dollar campaigns as examples, and we usually read about only this one segment of industry.”


In the spirit of returning to the community, DeltaNano donated $10, 000 to the champions’ institution as a bursary donation, and expressed the hope that all participating students and their supporters saw the value in their efforts.


CNM at FASS Open House, May 18

By Mary Lee

On May 18, CNM participated in the FASS Open House with newly expanded and rationalized module offerings that attracted a lot of attention from hundreds of prospective students and their parents at the CNM booth and talk.




Apart from fielding queries about the new module offerings, CNM staff, faculty, alumni, and students, particularly those from CNM Society, also spent much of that Saturday sharing the department’s extra-curricular initiatives, student exchange and career opportunities with clusters of A-level and polytechnic graduates flocking to the faculty open house.




The waves of interested students continued rolling into the evening as CNM Head, Professor Mohan Dutta, gave a talk to a full house of audience at LT13 in the late afternoon. Going by the exchanges at the talk, the department can expect to receive a group of informed and enthusiastic freshmen in August.




CNM was among the 17 departments and programmes in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences that welcomed students and parents to the faculty open house this year.


Mimetic Recall – an experimental dance showing!

On the 10th and 11th of May, 2013, John Mead, will present a structured, improvisational contemporary dance event of creative work, using techniques he has been developing as part of his doctoral research with CNM. John is in the final year of his doctoral work here and is also the Artistic Director of the John Mead Dance Company / MI Arts.

The performers he is collaborating with are a group of dance students from the Lassalle College of the Arts that he has been teaching and working with this year in order to conduct this research. In addition, 5 dancers that work with John’s company will also be dancing in the showing. The NUS Electronic Music Lab will be providing live improvised and composed electronic music for the event. The research is in partial fulfillment of his PhD and will form a chapter or two in his final dissertation.

The showing will take place on the 9 – 11 of May, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM. at the Aliwal Arts Centre Multi Purpose Hall on 28 Aliwal Street, which is close to the Nicholl Highway MRT station. Tickets can be ordered through Ticket prices are as follows: Standard: $22. Students / NSMen / and 60+ Seniors are $15. Donation tickets can be made for $25 and above. All donations are entitled to double tax exemption.

Please come support your fellow CNM student!